Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

have been misrepresented; his character has been maligned. Bigots have dealt out their “Anathema Maranatha" against him: preachers from the pulpit have denounced him as “an apostle of Satan, and a hoary headed infidel;" but, calm and dignified, he has pursued " the even tenor of his way," -mildly, but earnestly, reiterating his principles,-trusting to win conviction by the power of evidence and the force of truth,—and freely forgiving those who had sought to injure him,-feeling assured that they had acted thus because “they knew not what they did.”

Let those who may have been accustomed to sneer at Robert Owen, or who have heard him spoken of as 'visionary and impracticable,' make themselves acquainted with the facts of his life, what measures he has advocated, and the amount of practical good already effected by his exertions. He was the founder of the first and most efficient institution ever established in this country for the purpose of infant training. He was the first who publicly advocated and prepared a Bill for limiting the hours of labour for children in mills and factories. He was the author of the plan of self-supporting Home Colonies, submitted by him to Mr. Falk, the Dutch Ambassador, who introduced it into Holland, where it has now been in successful operation for many years; and which, if established in this country, would speedily lead to the extinction of pauperism and poor-rates. Education and employment,-equal rights and liberty of conscience,-the development of all man's faculties and the supply of all man's rational wants : these have been the great objects of his unceasing exertions, and to which his life has been consecrated. His theory of the power of education and surrounding circumstances in the formation of character were submitted by him to the test of practical experiment, during a quarter of a century, among a population of nearly 3,000 people; and the wonderful success of that experiment has been attested by evidence of the most incontrovertible character.

I lately had the pleasure of attending a large public meeting, at which Robert Owen was present, to congratulate him on the approaching anniversary of his natal day; and, to me, more deeply impressive, more truly eloquent, than all the orating and the perorating, was it to see the glorious Philanthropist his face brightening, and his eyes glistening, while descanting upon his favourite theme, with all the zeal and ardour of youthful enthusiasm_his faith as firm, his hopes as high, his charity as unbounded as ever. As I gazed and listened, how small and insignificant, compared with him, appeared the titled great ones of the world ; and I thought how much true and earnest men might yet do for their ignorant and suffering brethren, and how much wealth, and time, and talent-God's noblest gifts -were trifled with and frittered away upon frivolous and unworthy objects. Verily, this is a serious matter. Happy are they who can answer it to the satisfaction of their own consciences. I felt it was a proud thing for Robert Owen to say (albeit it was said with all meekness and modesty,consistently with his principles, and disclaiming all individual merit); but I'also felt conscious of this truthfulness, when he asserted that there was not a man living, whatever might be his wealth or station, with whom he would willingly exchange places. And as the good old man descended from the platform, I recalled the language of the poet:

"His life
Was pure and gentle; and the elements
So mixed in him, that Naturo might stand up
And say to all the world—This was a Man,"

THOMAS SHORTER.

THE VALUE OF LEISURE. TRITE but true is the saying noscitur a sociis—a man is known by the company he keeps ; or, in other words, show me a man's associates, and I'll tell you what sort of character he is.' Equally true would it be to say, 'show me how a man usually occupies his leisure hours, the hours not devoted to his daily-bread work, his profession or handicraft, and I'll give you a pretty correct estimate of the value and quality of that person's mind.' As a feather will point out which way the wind blows, so will these hours of idleness in a man's life serve as an index for us to judge whether his nature has more of an intellectual, or more of an animal tendency. They will show us whether he is a man of thought, conscious that there is within him a principle of spiritual growth which needs cultivation, and is capable of elevating him above the inert mass of humanity; or whether his soul is “ of the earth earthy," loving only sensual pleasures, and never happy but in pursuit of them; and they will mark the lazy, apathetic, lounge-about, kill-time character, who seems to take no manner of interest in anything beyond his own selfish existence, and to whom the affairs of the world are all rattle and jargon ' signifying nothing.'

of those three classes of people for which each of the above stands as a type, viz :—the thinker, the sensualist, and the dummy, the two last are by far the largest in all ranks of society. The thinkers are a select few. They are, as it were, a vein of rich gold running throughout the moral world ; others are but of the common clay upon which we tread every day. The thinker passes his moments of leisure-his moments when the labours of necessity are over-.in such occupations as combine instruction with amusement; in some study which by improving his own mind will enable him to improve the minds of his neighbours; he reads not merely printed books, but the great volume of nature; he reflects on the history of mankind, and strives to trace the future in the present; he sympathises with the sorrowful, mourns over the wrongs and follies that triumph in the dress of religion and charity, and racks his brain for a plan to crush oppression and alleviate misery. The thinker never finds time hang heavy on his hands. He regrets its flight, not its duration; and he seeks to make the most of each short minute,-knowing that, if idleness be the Devil's opportunity,' the spare moments of life may be turned to the best account for the purposes of goodness and truth. With the poet Cowper he exclaims :

Me therefore, studious of laborious ease,
Not slothful; bappy to improve the time,
Not waste it; and aware that human life
Is but a loan to be repaid with use,
When He shall call his debtors to account
From whom are all our blessings-business finds,
Ev'n here-while sedulous I seek to improve,
At least neglect not, or leave unemploy'd
The mind he gave me; driving it, though slack
Too oft, and much impeded in its work
By causes not to be divulg'd in vain,
To its just point-the service of mankind.
He that attends to his interior self,
That has a heart, and keeps it; has a mind
That hungers and supplies it; and who seeks
A social, not a dissipated life-
Has business; feels himself enjoined to achieve

No unimportant, though a silent task. Thus will the intellectual man despise the frivolities and degrading gratifications to which the vulgar sensualist and gaping dummy resort when let

loose from the harness of labour. The day's work finished, where shall we look for these worse than useless creatures ? Not where intelligence and refinement meet to enjoy the feast of reason and the flow of soul'; but in tavern tap-rooms, gloating over ribald jests, and obscene songs, in 'coal-holes,'

cider-cellars,' billiard-rooms, dancing-booths, among dog-fighters, cockfighters, prize-fighters, jockies, and such like brainless boobies whose highest conversation is of wagers lost and won, steeple-chases, and broken heads-or mayhap if the dummy-headed idler have a turn for quiet gambling, we shall find him seated at a table engaged with other kindred spirits in the mysteries of cribbage or whist, or some kind of entertainment furnished by those symbols of groveling idiotcy--cards. Groveling idiotcy ? Yes, nor is the term too harsh or inappropriate, for of all the devices for murdering a leisure hour ever contrived by human cunning, cards are truly the most abominable. They require neither wit nor wisdom to learn. Any donkey with but half an idea, and that a silly half, may become a profound card-player if he pleases --why, they were invented to while away the tedious hours of an idiotic French King, who, though he could not attend to affairs of state, could shuffle and deal a few pieces of spotted and pictured paste-board with right royal skill. We hope no Democrat ever condescends to soil his fingers with touching such iniquities. There are only three descriptions of people to whom we would allow the luxury of card-playing, and these are monarchs, imbecile old men and women, and fools. The first have a prescriptive right to the fun, the second can do nothing better, and the third will not. No man with any enlarged sense of his own self-respect will often be found at a card-table.

To contemplate the vast portion of time that some persons take from their life to bestow it on pursuits calculated to demoralise themselves, and consequently to demoralise society, must make every heart that yearns for the elevation and progress of man very, very melancholy and downcast. When we know what might be done by application to intellectual employments, by careful culture of our nobler faculties; when we know how many evils of life might be mitigated, if not altogether abolished, by attention to mental and moral advancement, it is lamentable to reflect on the recklessness with which thousands, day after day, throw away valuable moments in the gratification of silly and sordid fancies-moments never to be recalled. We can perceive signs of awakening serious thought among the people; but there are many obstinate follies to fight against yet. Intemperance and gambling are two of the worst vices of this country,--though compared with the past century we are considerably improved in these particulars. For ignorance there is small excuse, now our press is tolerably free, and books are abundant and cheap. May the coming age be an improvement on the present! May the rising generation outstrip their progenitors in virtue, in wisdom, and in happiness!

FRANK GRANT,

Lectures, in London, for the ensuing deck. Sunday, June 16, at half-past 7, Hall of Science, (near Finsbury Square,) City Road.

Carlyle's Chartism and Latter-Day Pamphlets''-Samuel M. Kydd. Monday, June 17, at half-past 8, Mechanics’ Institute, Gould Square, Crutched Friars.

“ Industrial Exhibition of 1851"-S. Sidney. At half-past 8, Finsbury Hall, 66, Bunhill Row. * Life and Poetry of Burns"-J. M. Wade. At half-past 8, Pentonville Athenæum, 23, Henry Street. · Political Retrospect of the last Thirty Years" - Jolin Savage. At half-past 8, Soho Mutual Instruction Society.

Pleasures of Scientific Research and sensual Gratification, Contrasted"-J.

Benny. Tuesday, June 18, at 8, British Coffee Rooms, Edgeware Road.-Weekly Meeting of the

Free Enquirers' Society.

CATHOLIC.

Correspondence.

Coventry, June 1st, 1850. DEAR Sır,—While reading the “ Passion and Crucifixion, &c.," in your "Critical Exegesis of Gospel History” in your Journal, I found a difference between the texts of the Protesta and Catholic Bibles respecting Judas's death and the Potter's Field. They are as follows:(Acts, Ich. 18v.)

PROTESTANT. “Yow this man” (Judas) "purchased a “And he" (Judas) "hath possessed a feld field with the reward of iniquity; and falling of the reward of iniquity, and being hangal headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and burst asunder in the midst; and all kisi all his bowels gushed ont."

bowels gushed out." I cannot understand the Catholic version where it says, “and being hanged." If you explain it to me you will much oblige.

Yours respectfully, EDWARD J. TURNER [Answering from Newcastle, I cannot turn to a copy of the Roman Catholie version. I can only say that the Greek does not say "being hanged.' The words have been inserted, most likely to make Acts accord with Matthew. I wish the correspondent had intimatei whether the words " being hanged,' in the Catholic version, are not in italics.-T. C.]

72, Broadwall, Blackfriars' Road, May 29th. SIR,You appear to me, one, anxious to controvert error, and to establish truth, and therefore, I beg to ask of you to furnish me with an answer to the following enquiry.

Why the Jews, dispersed as they are throughout most known countries, and tenacions their old religion, still remain a distinct people, notwithstanding the various difficulties, and persecutions through which they have passed? They have always appeared to my mind a living witnesses of the divine origin of Christianity. If you can satisfactorily confute this idea, I shall then perhaps, be disposed to view the Christian religion as a “cunningly devise! fable," and a "pernicious and debasing superstition.

Yours with respect,

Johx CLARK. [Mr. Clark must not expect me to attempt to satisfactorily confute' any idea, -in order to dispose him ' to view the Christian religion' in the light he describes. I neither believe the religion itself to be cunningly devised,' or a 'pernicious and debasing superstition,' —nor de I regard the fables which have been attached to the religion as cunningly devised:' they are too artless to come under that character.

The question he asks is often represented as a formidable one; but a little reflection will reduce the apj arent difficulty. 1. The Jews are not the only tribe which are dispersed' and

still remain a distinct people. Among others, the Gypsies may be mentioned, who, though now few in this country, are numerous in Spain, Hungary, Russia, &c., and have a common language. George Borrow's book will inform Mr. Clark of this. 2. The Jews are not so ' tenacious of their old religion, as some divines in sweeping terms represent them to be. Where are their sacrifices? The civilised world has shamed the Jews out of them. And the same may be affirmed of many other ceremonies which they have laid aside. 3. The Jews are not so distinct' a people where they have been allowed to possess land, as in Poland. The Polish Jew is as passionately patriotic and attached to Poland, as the Sclavonic Pole. 4. • Persecution' itself, solves the main difficulty raised. It is persecution which keeps the Jew distinct,'—just as persecution causes the poor Irish to cling the closer to Catholicism,-just as the burning of the Martyrs in the reign of Mary caused the English people, who were then chiefly Catholic, to einbrace Protestantism, or assisted them so to do. Examples might be multiplied. --T. C.]

To Correspondents. Correspondents will please address“ Thomas Cooper, at Mr. Barlow's, bookseller, 2, Nelson Street, Newcastle-on-Tyne”-until June 23rd.

H. R. N. and J. A. L. Their communications are thankfully received, and shall appear very soon.

Young Labourer.” The Sonnets of Petrarch have been translated several times; but I really cannot inform him where they are to be had, until I reach home again.

R. H. H. Uxbridge. His communication shall be inserted so soon as there is room for it.

“ A Radical," I admire his plainness; but I am too dull to see the full force of his objections to the passages he alludes to.

W. J. 0. He must excuse my answers, at present. We will talk about these things, when I return to Town,

George Mart, junior. I am not troubled, but pleased, to receive his questions, and will answer all of them, if he will introduce himself to me when I reach the Potteries, in my way home. I cannot, at present, state the time I expect to be there;, but will do so, very soon,

1

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THINKINGS FROM JEREMY BENTHAM. The l'AE PRINCIPLE OF UTILITY.-By the principle of utility is meant that principle Dion, &'irich approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tene betrenicy which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party Ste's Fall Fose interest is in question; or, what is the same thing in other words, to pro

te or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever ; and, thereGle, not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of * (Sun) 'svernment.

LOVE OF HAVING THE LAST WORD.Some men have a failing which is a source 1 great annoyance to others, and for which they pay the penalty by making the h aversation less agreeable, and even at times making their conversation intolera

; it is the habit of stickling for the final word. Right or wrong in the conwtfulle fw)versy, subdued or victorious, there are persons who insist on exercising the the fanitty and vexatious despotism of uttering the last sentence that is uttered. This The disposition is the out-break of pride in a very offensive shape. It is the usurpation be cursus dominion over the self-love of other men, on a ground where men are ordinarily Panik ost sensitive. It is, in fact, a determination to humiliate him with whom you have

en holding intercourse to humiliate him, not by the success of an irresistible lection .gument, but by an intrusion of a tyrannic power. Avoid then the act, lest the 1, 2d sit should create the habit; and if the habit exist, extra-regarding prudence rebe for uires that it should be got rid of. Watch yourself, and inquire of any friend on Toreobrisan

hose sincerity you can rely-inquire, if you are quite sure you will not be hurt by fue is reply, whether the infirmity is exhibited by, or has been observed in you; and

it be, correct the infirmity. E A SAGE'S OPINION OF ATHS.--The oaths and other engagements with which the

tatute book swarms, are with few, if any exceptions, a great deal worse than usehot less. Either they have an exclusionary effect; or by their emptiness, and looseness, te pria-hey afford to those who have taken them, t'ne pretence of acting under a sense of

nebligation, while no such sense is in their hearts. Hear a judge talk of his oath ? ng spesihat is that oath ? A piece of old woman's tattle that is never seen by any body, neay deveneans nothing, and has nothing in it which has any tendency to bind any body.

Oh, yes! one thing it has; and that is a promise never to take money fee of any ta lite body. But this he breaks in the face of the day, and most days of his life. And ich are shus it is, that, in the teeth of Magna Charta, he denies justice to all but the rich, hentices and makes them pay for it!

EDUCATION.-On this subject, as most oth ers, strange notions have been entertained in the world—that nothing in a mind is better than anything; or, that if fing something must be there, that something is better supplied by chance than by dia design, as if fortune were wisdom's surest gviide. But, "nothing" will not keep

si Nits hold in any mind. Be it as it may with space, nature endures no vacuum in dari minds. The mind is a field, in which, so sui:e as man sows not wheat, so sure lidt hen will the devil be to sow tares. Another strang'e notion, if another it may be termed, Catics which has been entertained—as if there were a repugnancy between morality and betonele letters, as if the health of the affections and inoral faculties depended, in this rank de of life more than any other, upon a morbid state of the intellectual-letters, it has

been said, may be an instrument of fraud ; so may bread, if discharged from the

mouth of a cannon, be an instrument of death. i handelt No INNOVATION.—To say all new things are bad, or at any event, at their com

mencement; for of all the old things ever seen or heard of there is not one that he was not once new. Whatever is now establishment was once innovation. He who on

this ground condemns a proposed measure, condemns in the same breath whatsotimes I ever he would be most adverse to be thought to disapprove.—He condemns the

Revolution, the Reformation, the assumption made by the House of Coinmons of a part in the penning of the laws in the reign of Henry VI., the institution of the House of Commons itself in the reign of Henry III.; all these he bids us regard as the sure forerunners of the monster Anarchy, but particularly the birth and first efficient agency of the House of Commons; an innovation, in comparison of

which all others, past or future, are for efficiency, and consequently mischievous . PH ness, but as grains of dust in the balance.

The Je

« AnteriorContinuar »